So Thursday, my last day in Paris I was having the best day ever. I was thinking how, when you return to a place you love, you have to visit new places to keep it fresh, but you also have to revisit those places that made you love it in the first place. I took the bus down towards Notre Dame and stopped off at the same grocery store we stopped at in the spring, for a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice. I also picked up a few little crusty buns and a tub of cheese for breakfast by the church. I walked down the same little streets–no one was out but the sun was shining and the sky was blue. I walked around the back of the church. There’s actually a fairly large park out back and I sat in the sun and ate my bread and cheese and drank my orange juice. There were no crowds and apart from one or two other tourists, and the gardener, I had the place to myself. After eating and admiring the delicate flying buttresses, the towers and the large windows I wandered around to the front of the building and went inside. The sun really lit up the stained glass and the interior glowed with color. I wandered over to the Shakespeare bookshop, an iconic Paris location and turned the corner to see the Odette bakery, another iconic location. We sat literally up the street from it in the spring when we had breakfast in the little park with Paris’ oldest tree. Also just across the street from the Shakespeare book shop. Paris is like that–full of surprises.
I wanted to go and visit le Grand Epicerie-a huge fancy grocery store. It was almost close enough to walk to if I cut thru the Luxumberg park. Of course I had to sit and watch the ducks on the pond and look at the flowers. It was so nice. Then kitty corner thru the park and up a couple of blocks. The grocery was unbelievable. Filled with every kind of gourmet food–a wall of jams, the chocolate section,the cheese and seafood corners. Shelves of breads and baking and charcuterie. In the seafood section people were eating giant bowls of king prawns. Well I wanted some too but I would have had to take out a second mortgage on the house. I did the next best thing. I picked out a package of cooked shelled king prawns and a small tub of house mayo and decided to have a little picnic at the Pere Lachaise cemetary. As I walked out of the grocery right in front was an Orange store. I was out of data so I went in to put another ten euros on my phone. Plenty to last till I left. I hopped the bus to go to the cemetary. And this is where bad things start happening.
I got to the cemetery and just exited the bus. I heard a woman call out”Madame!!” I knew she was speaking to me. I turned and said, “quoi ??” She sort of waved me off and walked around a sign, to hide from the bus. The young guy who had been sitting beside me was at the door just looking out –I thought it was weird but concentrated on the woman who seemed upset about something. Then she said to me in french, “I’m so sorry, I’m so afraid of him. He’s taken your red mobile, je suis desole …” And the bus doors closed. I felt my pocket. Empty. Well I tried running after the bus but with my knees I can just barely walk I realize now the guy was just looking to see if I would challenge him or confront him and he was ready to make a run out the door. But the woman was too late in telling me…I mean it’s that kind of thing where everything that happens is in slow motion and you second guess everything. How did she know it was a red mobile? Well if she saw him take she would know–she’d also know if she took it and was just trying to redirect me. So I don’t know what really happened. I should have zipped my pocket but I didn’t have my phone out and it was a deep pocket. Maybe he just got lucky–went fishing and came up with my phone. And my credit card. And my bank card. All together in my phone case. But I was only upset about the phone–losing my contacts and photos. The cards could be cancelled and replaced. So I went to the gendarmerie and filed a report. It was such a comedy. The young cop filled out his uniform really well but not much between the ears. He kept telling me I needed to call to cancel my cards and I kept telling him I had no phone. Exasperated, I asked if I could use the phone on his desk. Oh no. Not allowed. Finally out of there, I had to take the bus back to my hotel. I was still pretty shaken and I didn’t really want to get on the bus. Once on I was hyper vigilant, watching everyone, and angry that this guy was making feel so suspicious. Then an older gentleman approached me and asked in English if that was a poppy I was wearing. I said yes and he reached out to shake my hand. See it’s the little things like that, that restore my faith in people. The regular Parisians are such nice people, helpful and friendly.
But this did not erase the fact that I now had only 70E to last till I left. Once back at my hotel the manager helped me to call Mastercard to cancel my card. Of course none of the numbers we pulled up online worked. The Canadian numbers didn’t work and the French one left us on hold for half an hour. We tried different prefix variations for the Canadian numbers and finally one seemed to work. I had called my sister and asked her to go down to the bank to try to cancel them that way. But just as she called back from the bank I reached an operator in the states. The card hadn’t been used so before I cancelled it I managed to pay the hotel bill. But there’s nothing like having no money to focus the mind. I had pre purchased my bus ticket to the airport but that was also tucked into my phone case. So I had to buy another. I didn’t want to spend money on a final supper–what if I needed a cab in the morning or just money for some emergency? I still had my shrimp. So not the picnic in the park I had thought.
All I can is thank goodness this happened on my last day, and not the first. I had no problems getting to the airport and then home. I had no money to pay for parking but they let me go, just taking my email. I had thought I would stay in Edmonton that night but of course I had no cards so I just started driving home. I made it to Wainwright before I decided I needed to sleep. I pulled into a Tim Hortons and crawled into the back of the car and slept for a couple hours before driving the rest of the way home.
Not exactly the end of the trip I wanted but it could have been so much worse.